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Wedding Woes

This is a shit situation. (TW: infant loss)

Dear Prudence,
My sister-in-law just buried her infant son. She had struggled with infertility for years until he was born, and it’s devastating. I am currently four months pregnant. My husband and I already have children and have not told announced this pregnancy yet, but it is going to be obvious soon. I don’t want to cause my sister-in-law any more pain but I don’t see how I can’t. We’ve always had a difficult relationship and it mostly surrounds my children. She has been publicly bitter about my pregnancies and once said openly it wasn’t fair I had so many children when I wasn’t a good mother. (My sons were having a tantrum at a family picnic and she’d had had too much to drink.) We ended up leaving and later accepted an apology from my husband’s brother. I really was hoping that my nephew’s birth would be a chance for our family to turn over a new leaf. Now I feel like this divide will never be bridged. What can I do? What can I say?
—Feeling Tentative

Re: This is a shit situation. (TW: infant loss)

  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    This is a shit situation.

    I hope the SIL is seeing someone to help with her grief over the loss and the infertility.  If she is not seeing someone, I hope she has reached out to online support groups.

    As for the pregnancy.  I think that LW's H should tell his brother alone.  Let the brother break it to SIL when he feels the time is ok. 

    As tough as it is when SIL is bitter about the pregnancies, I hope LW is able to be as kind as she can in return.  When they left the family picnic instead of staying, that was a good way to respond.

    If they are all together and the talk of her pregnancy comes up, I think LW and her H should shift the conversation away from the pregnancy to something else - non kid related.  They can still be excited about the new baby, just don't do it when the SIL is around.

  • What a sad situation. I agree that LW's husband needs to speak to his brother about this privately, and soon. It's not going to help matters if LW shows up to a family event obviously pregnant and SIL feels like the news was sprung on her out of nowhere. BIL needs to have a chance to break the news to her gently.

    Beyond that, I think LW and her husband need to try not to make a big fuss about the pregnancy in front of BIL and SIL and should agree ahead of time how to handle it if SIL becomes angry again. While they need to respect her grief and how hard this all must be for her, that doesn't mean they have to allow her to insult either of them. Leaving the picnic was probably the most appropriate thing to do last time, and if they think they need to do that again, so be it.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    How sad.

    I agree with having the LW's husband break the news to his brother, who can in turn break it to his wife. And I also agree that around them the LW and her husband woukd do well to tone down their excitement about her pregnancy.

    But, they should not have to pretend it's not happening, avoid the SIL or walk on eggshells around her. Nor should they have to accept bad behavior or unwarranted criticism from her. Boundaries are going to be their best friends here. Good practice for after their baby arrives, actually. 
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